The Real End Times - From Doom to Faith

Column by Rev. Michael Dowd on 13 July 2023 0 Comments

Here we are, immersed in a swirl of biospheric breakdown and societal strife that isn’t going away; in fact, it’s getting worse. The darkness and distress cannot be passed off as the wrath of an angry God. Rather, we ourselves are at cause, and these are the real end times.

Please login with your account to read this essay.


As we learn more and more that the literal bible and the churches that rely on it for belief and faith many not be the best way to connect to our spiritual origins, is God still relevant?


Dear Caroline,

One of the strangest and most harmful dichotomies in the church is the binary distinction between a “literal” and a “nonliteral” interpretation of scripture.  There are, in fact, no true biblical literalists--only selective literalists.  The Bible is full of myths, songs, parables, poems, and vivid dreams—none of which can be taken literally.  Otherwise, it would make no sense to say that Jesus is the “Lamb of God” when we all know that Mary did not have a little lamb.

Literalism is a post-enlightenment phenomenon forced on scripture that equates what “really happened” to what is true.  Historical Jesus scholar John Dominic Crossan put it this way.  “My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories, and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically, and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.”

When we understand the Bible as a collection of sacred stories, our method for determining if they are “true” changes, and their power (and sometimes their terror) opens itself to the imagination.  We stop asking, “Did this really happened” and start asking, “Is this true?”  Or, more importantly, “Is it still true?”  As for the implications of a nonliteral reading of scripture upon our understanding of the relevancy of God, perhaps that is the only way we can move beyond the Male Sky God who lives above us in the Bible’s three-story universe—a universe we no longer live in.

What’s more, the claims made about the nature and activity of God are disconfirmed every day by our lived experience.  This has led many thoughtful people to reject all religious ideas completely.  If God is truly all-knowing (is aware of all suffering and injustice), all-powerful (has the means to stop it) all loving (is disposed to stop it), and omnipresent (can act anywhere and everywhere without delays), then why is the world the way it is?  When terrified parents pray to God to save their child who is dying of cancer, and the child dies, while others pray and the child lives, does this mean that God plays favorites?   Is the God of our religious traditions merely a father-figure projected onto the sky, causing us perpetual shame and guilt?

Perhaps the time has come to abandon literal and anthropomorphic images and understandings of God altogether and return to ancient understandings of God as Spirit, as Pure Relationship, as a holy and transcendent Mystery, or as Marcus Borg put it The Something More?  Then we will approach the idea of the Divine with humility.  Or, as the Tao reminds us, when we think we know, that is when we do not know.  But when we know that we do not know, that is when we know.

~ Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers




Leave a Reply